My Cat,Flash, & Porch Purgatory: What Flash & Luke 16:19-31 Teach Us

Posted: April 8, 2015 in 42-Gospel of Luke
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Luke 16:19-31 — You know, for several weeks now, as we have progressed through Jesus’ teachings in His parables, one thing that pops out is that a lot of these parables are about possessions and money. Today is no different. Today, we look at the Parable of the Rich Man and the Beggar. Many of us think that there is always more time. Just give me a little more time to live as I want to and then I will come to Christ.

It is a bit ironic that we run across this passage today. Last night, my wife and I were sitting on our back porch (our favorite spot at our house, especially in the spring and summer), and it was raining. My cat, Flash, was out there with us. It was raining pretty hard outside but yet my wife does not like to let my little buddy in the house too often. So, there sits Flash on the porch. Can’t go outside because of the pouring rain. Can’t go inside because of Elena. So, he just sat on the floor stairing aimlessly outside. I said “Poor lil Flashy! He’s in porch purgatory.”

That got me to thinking. Where did the Catholics come up with the doctrine of purgatory? According to Catholic tradition, this belief has existed since the beginnings of the church (remember the Catholic church was the original church of Jesus’ disciples, catholic is Latin for universal. The church did not get this official name until it became the official religion of the Roman Empire around 300 AD). Research shows that Judaism believes in it as well. Islam does too in a sense with Islam’s levels of heaven. So, the Catholics are not alone in this belief that there is some type of cleansing that goes on for a period of time before we get to go to “real” heaven where we are cleansed of our imperfections. It is said that half of all Christians have this concept as part of their beliefs and most all other religions do too. Only we Protestants (all non-Catholic) believers dismiss the concept as having no basis in God’s Word itself. Man has developed this belief that there is always more time. More time to get ourselves straight with God. The dogma of purgatory almost gives us the idea that we do not really have to get it right while we are here on earth. We have a chance to get it right after death and before our final eternal destination. What a crock this is? It almost eliminates the need for Jesus and eliminates the urgency to come to Him. We’ve got time, always more time. I can put off til later dealing with this salvation thing.

This passage reminds us that purgatory is not biblical. This passage reminds us that hell is real. This passage reminds us that we are not guaranteed tomorrow so salvation and evangelism are essential.

As we see here in this passage, the beggar went to heaven and the rich man went to hell. This means that there is an immediate assignment of our soul to its eternal destination. There is no purgatory. There is no second chance. Purgatory is just an invention of man to make himself feel better about his loved ones who have passed on or about our own lifestyle as it is lived out day to day. It takes away the urgency of evangelism and it takes away the need for salvation. Jesus never spoke of purgatory. He only spoke of heaven and hell and we see it here clearly that there are only two options. Live a life of hard-heartedness. Live a life of rejection of God and His Word. Live a life of never accepting Jesus as your Savior and you will get your answer about the afterlife immediately.

This passage reminds us that hell is for real. There is no purgatory. There is the “hell express” immediately upon death for those who do not come to Christ in this one life chance that we have. Hell is not a pretty place. The rich man complains of the unquenchable thirst that he has and that he is in anguish. Let’s get this straight first. The rich man did not go to hell because he was rich and had much wealth. He went to hell because selfish. He refused to help the beggar right at his doorstep, a man so sickly that even the dogs licked his sores. Let’s remember first century Jews had no love for dogs the way we do. They were considered mongrels and were considered unclean, nasty animals and were never kept as pets. To be so sick that dogs would feed on you meant that you were lower than low. The rich man would not care for the beggar at his doorstep who begged for food. He refused to take the beggar in or even care for him. The rich man was hard-hearted despite his many material blessings. This man went to hell because his wealth was his god. He was blinded that Moses and prophets preached that God wants us to show love to the less fortunate. In the caring for the less fortunate, we learn not to love our things and make them our God. Caring for the less fortunate helps us to show the world that there is a God who loves them and will give them hope. Yet this man probably felt that his wealth and the maintenance of it was more important than helping his fellow man. When we make anything else other than God our god during this one chance at life that we get, we destine ourselves to the anguish of hell. It is a place of eternal suffering, pain and thirst and fire and the gnashing of teeth and bone and burning flesh and stench and emptiness. It is real and it is immediate. Do you want to keep putting off your coming to Jesus, the only way to the Father? The only way! No other way! Is living this life with some sense that you have time to get this right later on really a good bet? The rich man in this parable probably thought he had a long life to get things right but He didn’t. How much time do you think you have? Hell is for real. It is permanent. It is immediate when you die. I am not trying to scare anyone into salvation. That never works but it is so common for us when we are non-believers to think that we have more time to deal with our eternal destiny.

Why is it that we think that we always have time to deal with Jesus later? We think we are going to live forever. All of us, even Christ followers, do not like to think of death as being right around the corner. As Christ followers we know we are secure in heaven at death but we do not like to think it could be when we step our door to go to work this morning. The reality however is that we are not guaranteed one more minute in this temporal life that we are living now. We could indeed step out the door this morning to go to work and never make it there, even if you live less than two miles from work like I do. Death is always out there. We do not know when it comes. Why is it then that non-believers think they can put off dealing with Jesus until later. I put it off for 39 years. Let me live my life the way I want to right now. I can deal with Him after I have sowed all my wild oats. I am having too much hedonistic fun right now to deal with Him. I am too busy reveling in my sins right now. I will deal with Jesus later. We are not guaranteed one heart beat more than the next beat. Don’t put off coming to Jesus. Come to Him now. The rich man in this parable thought he had all the time in the world. We think we will live forever. Tomorrow I will deal with Jesus. Tomorrow. But tomorrow may never come. We may die today. Come to Your Savior now. As the captain of the space shuttle on Armageddon said, “We’ve got no time. No time!” Today may be your last day. Don’t put off knowing Jesus as your Savior. The rich man thought he had more time but died suddenly and putting off and putting off landed him in a place of eternal anguish known as hell.

The fact that we are not guaranteed tomorrow not only should give the non-believer a sense of urgency to deal with Jesus but as Christ followers it should give us a great sense of urgency to share the gospel message. We put off sharing the gospel but it has been statistically proven that a person typically has at least 8 gospel encounters before they finally accept Christ. If we miss our divine appointments because we feel uncomfortable sharing, we are stretching out the time frame that a person has before the come to Christ, if at all. We are not guaranteed tomorrow as Christians but non-believers are not either. Hell is for real and is immediate upon death as we see in this parable. That raises the stakes for us as Christ followers. We must share the gospel when the opportunity arises. We must have a sense of urgency. Now. Now. Now. Hell is at stake. Souls are at stake. One chance at this life. It is short. Non-guaranteed long life. Today is the day. We should have that urgency on our mind when gospel opportunities are laid before us. Let us live with gospel urgency!

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